China Localization & Branding for Business Success

China localization

China localization together with branding helps SMEs from around the world to set foot into the Chinese market or expand their presence in this booming economy.

With a proven success record, China Gravy is keen to help your business soar in the Chinese market. We are keen to share our key insights of the past decade, and outlook of what we expect to see in the coming years.

In this article, the China Gravy specialists will show you how to adapt your brand to connect effortlessly with the Chinese market and ensure seamless integration.

What is Localization?

Localization can be defined as the adaptation of a service or content to a specific audience and their cultural, linguistic, and other preferences as well as local environment in a certain target market.

When done professionally, localization of a service or content makes the audience feel as if it was designed specifically for them. It will feel natural and relatable, making localization a key success factor for businesses. Examples:

  • Service/content translation or transliteration
  • Currency conversion: Chinese Yuan (RMB) and payment system integration (e.g. Alipay, WeChat Pay) 
  • Measurements: metric system in China
  • Cultural, political, legal, and other regulatory/framework adjustments
  • Design adjustments
  • Registering forms: family name, first name
  • Address forms: country – province – city – street name (zip codes are not commonly used in China)

Tip: Keep in mind that certain cultures have specific symbols that can have different meanings. For example, Chinese culture is full of symbols and bias. For example, in China, the color red traditionally symbolizes luck, joy, and prosperity. It is a color often associated with festivals, celebrations, and positive events.


To differentiate, transliteration goes beyond the direct translation of the meaning of a term. Instead, it involves representing the sounds of words from one language into another writing system, often with especially fitting characters. An excellent example of well-executed transliteration and localization of a brand is Coca-Cola.

Why is Localization in China important?

As you may know, China is the leading export country in the world by far, followed by the US and Germany. At the same time, the “Middle Kingdom” is the second largest import country worldwide after the US.

This results in China being the largest e-commerce market in the world according to revenue, followed by the US and Japan. At present, the US is still the largest economy in the world according to GDP, followed by China. However, it is expected that the “Middle Kingdom” will take first place in the next 10 years.

With the market and consumer power in mind, the Chinese market is a must for local and international brands to enter or expand in China. To do so successfully, localization is the first step, followed by organic and paid digital marketing, partnerships, and offline activities.

Now that we have established that localization for the Chinese market is important, let’s take a closer look at what this means exactly, and how to get started.

What does China Localization mean specifically?

In China, there’s a difference between the spoken and written language. While Mandarin is spoken, the written form is typically in Chinese characters. There are two forms of written Chinese: Simplified and Traditional Chinese.

Simplified Chinese

  • official documents, business communication
  • mainland China
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia

Traditional Chinese (Cantonese)

  • Chinese communities abroad
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Macau

Overall, there are more than 1.1 billion Chinese native speakers across the world. For localization, businesses typically opt for Simplified Chinese. However, depending on your audience, it may be beneficial to also localize for Traditional Chinese. Just keep in mind that this requires additional time and budget.

China Localization & Branding Strategy

At China Gravy, our expertise lies in overseas service-based industries

For various renowned international clients in these fields, we have successfully localized their brand to the Chinese market. 

The following four steps have emerged as key success factors for Chinese localization based on our real-life experience, and take about three months from concept to implementation. This timeframe can differ based on a client’s needs, timeline, and budget. 

1. Brand Name & Appearance

Enhance your brand’s visual identity and messaging for the Chinese market, taking into account cultural nuances and preferences, while adhering to your global CI. Rebranding includes your brand’s name, logo, and color palette.

Example: Coca-Cola

An example of a popular and well-executed brand localization in China is Coca-Cola, which is written as “可口可乐”. Phonetically, “kěkǒu kělè” sounds similar to the English brand name, while it also carries positive meaning.

“可口” (kěkǒu) means “tasty” or “delicious,” and “可乐” (kělè) translates to “happiness” or “joy.” This transliteration captures the essence of the brand and resonates well with Chinese consumers, making it a key success factor for Coca-Cola in the Chinese market.

2. Content Strategy

Develop a comprehensive content strategy and editorial calendar to captivate your target audience across those Chinese platforms that are ideal for your brand.

This also includes the positioning of your brand in the Chinese market, because competitors, pricing models, and the overall landscape in your niche may differ from the West. Make sure to refine and sharpen your USPs and positively set yourself apart from competitors.

Make sure your audience sees your brand in a positive light and has trust in your company. In fact, trust is a crucial factor in consumer behavior in China, even more so compared to the Western world.

3. Website & App

If you don’t have a website or app yet, we will create one for you, specifically engaging Chinese consumers. In the more likely scenario that you already have a website and/or app, we will localize your English content to align with Chinese cultural norms and preferences, while simultaneously optimizing it for Chinese search engines, namely Baidu SEO.

In general, Chinese consumers have different preferences compared to Westerners, for example, in terms of web design and usability. 

  • Western preferences: white, clean, minimal, to the point
  • Chinese preferences: “more is more”, playful, cartoonish, colorful (e.g. gold symbolizes wealth and riches), busy, lots of links, special offers, discounts, animations

Overall, Chinese internet users prefer an immersive online shopping experience that reminds them of browsing through a physical store.


  • Generally, the Chinese prefer mobile use over desktop, so your content should be responsive and optimized for smaller portable devices like smartphones and tablets.
  • Besides language, remember to also adapt photos to resonate with the Chinese audience, who prefer local landmarks and Asian families to foster engagement.
  • Chinese consumers love live chats on websites and chatting with brands on their official WeChat page. 
  • On the other hand, e-mail is not commonly used in China. Keep this in mind when developing marketing materials. For example, e-mail newsletters are unlikely to achieve impactful results in the Chinese market.
  • As you know, Western platforms like Google and Facebook are not available in China. Furthermore, the “Great Firewall of China” strongly regulates websites and their content. Your brand has to fulfill certain technicalities like having an ICP license when hosting a Chinese website in mainland China.

If all of this sounds too complicated, or you want to save time and money, consult a specialist to assist you with these steps.

4. Chinese Social Media

When tapping into the Chinese market, there is no way around Chinese social media. As you know Facebook, Instagram, X, and Co. are unavailable. Instead, Chinese apps WeChat, Weibo and Douyin dominate the market, and Xiaohongshu.

In fact, with 1.3 billion monthly active users worldwide, WeChat is the largest and most popular social media platform in China. In comparison, Facebook has 3 billion monthly active users globally.

When localizing your brand, make sure to create a presence on WeChat and engage with your audience. Additional platforms may be suitable, depending on your target demographic, specific goals, timeline, and budget. 

WeChat is China’s super app for everything that its audience uses daily: chatting with friends, calling taxis, paying, and more, making it an ideal avenue for boosting your brand visibility and fostering engagement.

Make sure to create engaging content that encourages likes, comments, and shares. Regularly provide discounts, promotions, and unique offers that resonate well with Chinese consumers’ love for bargains.

What’s next?

By the end of this first step, China localization, your brand is ready for the Chinese market, ensuring a culturally relevant online presence and communication strategy to set the stage for successful digital

marketing and B2B partnerships.

The following steps are digital marketing (Baidu SEO), B2B partnerships, digital ads (WeChat & Co.), analytics setup, and full-scale marketing (offline, events, media, etc.).

The Takeaway – China Localization & Branding

Localization requires the specific knowledge of a native of the respective culture and language paired with in-depth digital and marketing knowledge of the target market.

China Gravy offers this expertise as a one-stop solution. Benefit from our experience of more than a decade and enjoy reliable results with our unique multi-faceted approach.

To sum it up, these are the key aspects of successful Chinese localization

  • website, social, and content adaptation beyond “simple” translation
  • incorporate trending topics and technicalities: live streaming, live chat, Wanghong and KOL influencer marketing, regular special promotions
  • Google, Facebook & Co. are unavailable; instead focus on Baidu, WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin

Are you ready to get started? Our China experts help your service-based company to identify partners in China, establish contact, build the important Guanxi, negotiate terms, set up collaborations, conduct trainings, and much more.
Contact China Gravy today to redeem your FREE consultation.

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